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October 16, 2014

Unbeaten South Siders to face toughest opponent yet

Following their victory over Trinity last weekend, the Maroons are off to a 5–0 start for the first time since 1929. However, Chicago heads to Minnesota this weekend to face off with its toughest opponent yet, No. 11 Bethel (4–1).

“It feels amazing to be 5–0. If I had to describe the atmosphere in one word it would be hungry,” said fourth-year running back Zak Ross-Nash. “Although we are 5–0, we believe our best football is yet to come. Not being satisfied with our past drives us to become the team we believe we are.”

Bethel has yet to drop a game since losing its season opener to No. 6 Wartburg. The Royals are undefeated at home this season. The Maroons have received eight votes to be ranked in the top 25 in the country but have yet to break onto the list.

“Our goal, just like every week, is to win,” Ross-Nash said. “However, I’d like to come away from this weekend having shown the rest of the country that the University of Chicago Maroons are a legitimate competitor at the DIII level and that the sky is the limit for this program.”

Bethel is one of the largest, most physical teams the Maroons will face this season. They will also give the South Siders their second game on a natural grass surface, something the team struggled to deal with a bit last week in San Antonio.

“Bethel definitely will be one of the toughest matchups we face. They’re a solid team, but so are we. We prepared for them just like we prepare for any other team, and that is practicing with a lot of intensity and a hunger to win,” Ross-Nash said.

The game should prove to be a battle of two of the best defenses in the country. Chicago has the No. 4 ranked defense in DIII, while Bethel boasts the No. 21 ranked defense. Neither team is ranked offensively, however.

Third-year center Brock Appenzeller echoed those defensive stats with some sentiments of his own.

“Our defense has carried us all season. To win this game, it’s going to take the same top-20 caliber performance out of our offense that our defense gives every week,” he said.

Last week, second-year linebacker Jackson Garrey anchored the Chicago defensive unit, collecting 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. He was named to the D3Football.com Team of the Week.

This has been a historic season for the Chicago squad, marked by comeback victories, hard-fought wins, and teamwork-minded play. In his two years at Chicago, head coach Chris Wilkerson has fostered a program atmosphere players are excited to get behind.

“This team and coaching staff have been incredible to play for,” Ross-Nash said. “In all of my career I have never been a part of a team that cares about each other and the team as much as we do, and I honestly believe that has a lot to do with our recent success.”

Chicago faces off with Bethel on at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Arden Hills, MN.

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